I know that it's hard for people who don't have animals, or who don't form deep family bonds with their animals, to understand the depth of grief somebody like me feels for somebody like Lola. And I feel a little silly talking about it, knowing that people who don't understand will be reading, assigning me into some category of the absurdly emotional or revoltingly self-indulgent or something.
I'm not in fact particularly emotional. I tend to react to most things pretty rationally. I'm not sentimental or maudlin or even much given to tears. If I'm self-indulgent, it's about catalogue shopping, not finding ways to make myself miserable. But I've cried for Lola every day since she died. And not just eyes-filling, tears-leaking crying, but embarrassing, out-loud sobbing. I literally cry for her, in the sense of calling her name out loud. It's not the kind of grieving I've ever done for anybody else, and I've lost people.
In part, I think, losing someone who was so much a part of the fabric of your daily life, someone you saw more times a day than you could count or were ever consciously aware of, makes you especially raw to the idea of death itself, the finality, the unbearable absence of someone who was so very present. And the fact that my relationship with her was so physical plays a part in that, too. Somehow the idea that I can't just reach out and touch her is especially hard to bear.
I wish so much that I believed I would see her again. I wish I believed in heaven, in a conscious afterlife of any kind for any of us, in which some eternal aspect of me could embrace some eternal aspect of her. I wish I believed that one day we could do whatever ghosts or angels do that's like scritching and wagging and kissing faces. But I don't. I don't believe it, and I can't make myself believe it.
The part of her that was her is gone, and gone forever. The part of her that was flesh is ashes. We picked them up today, in a plastic urn with her name on a slip of paper scotch-taped. "NGEFL," Andy and I said in unison, shaking our heads. So many things were Not Good Enough for Lola that we shortened the phrase to its initials long ago.
I can believe that there's a kind of ocean of souls from which we each come, to which we each return, and that it includes all of us, from the very simple to the very complex. This notion doesn't give me the kind of comfort that the hope of concrete, individual me someday being reunited with concrete, individual Lola would. But it's a kind of comfort, being able to hope that, bound together as I feel certain we are, we will someday, in some form, embrace again.